Best Buy has a program of offering grants to schools to be used on digital technology. Our school went through the process and was awarded $20,000. Many thanks to Stephen Hurley and others for starting and encouraging the thinking and exploration that led us to this point. We still have other areas we are continuing to focus on based on this article: http://www.designshare.com/index.php/articles/great-learning-street-debate and two posts by Stephen Hurley that I continue to lose the links for. Hopefully, he (or someone else) will respond below and post the links to his blog posts on “imagination rooms” and “invigorating the front entrance to a school.” Both posts I believe are on hosted on the CEA’s website. Here is the text from our successful bid.
Question 1: How do you plan to use the technology with your students to inspire and enhance their education? Please be as detailed as possible (500 words).
We plan to use the technology to enhance our students learning experience at Glen shields in four areas:
1) We plan to invigorate our front lobby as a communal learning and sharing space that promotes student learning and community/parental engagement. Our plan is to create a space that can be used by students, teachers and parents to meet communally to interact and work on their own projects. We envision a space that encourages collaboration and welcomes a school’s diverse set of stakeholders to met and share in learning. We require computers, technology to support video conferencing and video editing, and a television to broadcast announcements for this space.
2) We wish to create an imagination room in a section of our library resource centre. This would offer a student center where they would be free to pursue self-directed and collaborative learning activities with a focus on critical thinking and inquiry through a lens of creativity and innovative exploration. We require computers, tablets and an LCD projector, technology to support video conferencing and video editing, Livescribe pens (allows you to digitally record everything you write and say) and other experiential learning kits (like circuit boards, robotics, etc.) available in this space.
3) We are interested in filling some of our public spaces around the school with social learning centers. Similar to the imagination room, these would be hubs of self-directed social learning and inquiry. We want to include computers and other technology resources dedicated to supporting an interactive and inquiry based learning experience.
4) We’d like to augment the technology already available as part of the classroom program. We require additional LCD projectors, computers to increase the size of our portable laptop/netbook labs, etc.
Together, technology in these 4 areas would allow us to offer diverse learning experiences to our students that would otherwise be impossible. Given the limitations of our current resources, technology has primarily been dedicated to classroom use and the instruction of students. We would like to dedicate this new investment in technology to further promote student learning and experimentation. This would allow us to offer the following experiences more efficiently and effectively to our students: virtual field trips to increase their understanding of the world in which they live, skyped connections to others – to have our students not just learn about others but to learn from others in an innovative and interactive way; work with all stakeholders (parents and students) to create videos to facilitate flipped classrooms; access a school Moodle course to foster an internal learning community and access points to develop learning communities outside the school through the integrated use of social media.
We feel that such opportunities will raise the level of engagement of some of our students experiencing learning challenges and provide valuable outlets for our more independent and creative learners. Independent access to learning tools and social learning contexts will provide a voice in our school community to groups that have been traditionally silenced or lacked voice as they access the rich environment offered by social media through digital technology.
Question 2: Tell us more about the students that would be directly impacted and how they would benefit from the grant. (250 words)
Our school is a microcosm ofCanada. Our school is an incredibly diverse school; this offers the same advantages and challenges of Canada as a whole. We service a community that includes a high number of recent immigrants and ELL learners, a diverse array of socio-economic realities, a large visible minority community, and gifted learners. Many students in this school have only limited access to digital technology, the Internet, social media and independent self-guided learning. Digital technology will help us service the diverse needs of this group. It will allow us to provide both a common experience of base instruction and learning, and it will allow us to focus on each student’s specific needs and interests.